Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MLB Draft Update #4


With just a little over six weeks to go before Major League Baseball's annual round up of talent in the June draft, things are getting a little bit clearer when it comes to players who might still be on the board when the Blue Jays turns come up in the first round.
  The Jays have the 9th and 11th picks, the latter due to the inability to sign California HS pitcher Phil Bickford.
   We don't profess to have any inside information about who the Jays have been following as the draft approaches.  We do think one of those picks will be a pitcher, subject to who is available.  We've also heard that there's a chance that they may go off the boards with the second first rounder, and take one of those high risk-high upside players they love.
  As far as the top picks go, it's clear at this point that NC State RHP Carlos Rodon, California HS LHP Brady Aiken, and Texas HS RHP Tyler Kolek have separated themselves from the pack, although there's no consensus as to the order.  Aiken may have the highest ceiling of the three, but we've read that Houston may look long and hard at Rodon, despite his disappointing spring, hoping to sign him for below slot, and use the savings on subsequent picks.
   The next group appears to consist of California HS C Alex Jackson, East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman, Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede, and LSU RHP Aaron Nola.  Both Beede and Nola have been selected by the Jays before, Beede in the 1st round in 2011, Nola in the 22nd round that year.  Beede has had an inconsistent spring, and after having shown earlier in the season that he had settled some of his command issues, has fallen back a bit, and it might not be surprising to see him slip in the draft.  The projections for Beede earlier in the year were top of the rotation, but the evaluation seems to have dropped to middle of the rotation.
   That leaves several players available. The name most consistently linked with the 9th through 15th slots in the draft is Florida HS SS Nick Gordon, son of former MLBer Tom.  In a draft with few high school impact bats, Gordon stands out.  Plus, he is projected to stay at short.  Another name that seems to have fallen into this section of the draft is South Carolina HS RHP Grant Holmes. There are some who feel that there isn't a lot of projection left with Holmes, but he has regularly reached the mid 90s with his fastball, and has a plus curve.  University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer also appears to be in this group, and has been linked to the Jays.  Evansville lefty Kyle Freeland has also been mentioned in some reports to be ranked in or around the 9th to 15th spot. NC State SS Trea Turner has also been reportedly scouted by the Jays, but most reports we've read have concerns about his plate mechanics, and don't consider him to be an impact bat.
   If recent trends hold true, the Blue Jays like to spend their first pick on a premium athlete (D.J. Davis), the high-risk and upside type (Marcus Stroman), or a long, lean, athletic pitcher (Beede, Aaron Sanchez).  If that's the case, we see Gordon and Holmes as players they might be most interested in.  The gamble pick could be Florida HS RHP Touki Toussaint, who has the kind of build the Jays covet, but is still seen as not having put all of his physical gifts together just yet.

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